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3D Printing an Electric Guitar: Meet Nathan Furman

Nathan Furman ’20 – a University of Miami electrical engineering and physics major, Foote fellow and member of the Frost School of Music Band of the Hour – has been using the College of Engineering – Johnson & Johnson 3D Printing Center of Excellence Collaborative Laboratory to create an electric guitar using additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing.

The Collaborative Laboratory gives faculty and students access to 10 3D MakerBots that use polymers and two 3D metal printers that use titanium or stainless steel for the development of joint research and grant proposals, along with student capstone projects and firsthand experiential learning. Furman took advantage of the laboratory’s MakerBots to develop his own guitar from scratch.

“The idea of 3D printing my own guitar came to me as I was wandering through the internet,” explains Furman. “I came across a picture of a guitar and I thought, ‘Why not 3D-print my own guitar?’”

Furman has had previous experience making guitars: He constructed one using only wood a few years ago. “The laboratory’s 3D printers allowed me to improve the design of the guitar and facilitate the process of making the pieces, making them work for me,” he explains.

By purchasing his own filaments and heavily modifying an online design, the custom-made guitar was relatively inexpensive. The guitar is one of the first student-led projects in the laboratory, and Furman hopes that this project is a stepping stone for other students to exploit the resources available at the College of Engineering, namely the Collaborative Laboratory.

“The laboratory includes a variety of other equipment, all available to the students,” says Furman. “I hope to see more cool things coming from the Collaborative Laboratory.”

Although the guitar is finished, Furman continues to work on the sound of the guitar, wanting to add a transistor to distort its sound. “I am using the guitar as a class project for my electronics class,” he says. “I’m applying class-learned concepts to add another element to this project, increasing its usefulness.”

As part of the University of Miami’s pep Band of the Hour, Furman hopes to officially use the guitar at the band’s performances. With the permission of Jay Rees, professor of music and director of athletic bands at the Frost School of Music, the guitar might also travel with the Band of the Hour as part of the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

Furman also has plans to make another 3D-printed guitar, learning from his mistakes and improving his design. “As long as I’m able to continue working with the 3D labs, the only thing that limits me is my own imagination.”

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